August 30, 2014

‘Hypnotizing Chickens’ by Julia Watts

Posted on August 28, 2014 by in Reviews, Romance

In the opening of Hypnotizing Chickens, we find main character Chrys Pickett leaving a teaching job, with tenure, at Western Carolina State to move in with Dr. Meredith Padgett, a plastic surgeon with a faux mansion and maid. The move is a step up for Chrys, one she wasn’t entirely comfortable with, but she is glad for the relationship and the comforts of her new home. In spite of her disappointment with her new teaching job, she soldiers on, taking comfort in her relationship with her partner. But everything is not as it seems and Chrys is headed for heartbreak. (more…)

‘Best Gay Stories 2014′ Edited by Steve Berman

Posted on August 27, 2014 by in Anthology, Reviews

Lethe Press, the independent press that publishes the annual Best Gay Stories anthologies, takes its name from the river of forgetfulness and oblivion in Greek mythology. With the publication of Best Gay Stories Lethe’s name becomes a bit of a misnomer for two crucial reasons. The first is that most of the twenty stories collected in the 2014 edition deal with memory, to the extent that “memory” means the absence of forgetfulness. Only three of them are in the still-cutting-edge present tense; the rest are firmly in the past, confronting issues of wanting to forget the traumas and stigmas of growing up gay in the previous generation, but also of nostalgia. As editor Steve Berman writes in his introduction, “The men you will meet in these pages are pained by the realizations that they are no longer young boys who can leap off rocks into a swimming pool or can happen upon a tryst without consequence. Some are at the precipice of adulthood, some are already across the great divide of years[...]”. The second reason for the name’s irony is simpler: most of these stories are truly quite memorable and attentive. (more…)

‘Willful Subjects’ by Sara Ahmed

Posted on August 25, 2014 by in Nonfiction, Reviews

Goldsmiths College professor and highly regarded race and cultural studies scholar Sara Ahmed offers an expanded study of the “feminist killjoy” in her new book, Willful Subjects. (more…)

‘The River’s Memory’ by Sandra Gail Lambert

Posted on August 20, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews

Not long ago, on a trip to Miami, I sat in the Charlotte airport waiting for my connecting flight, thinking about the art and literature of Florida. As a reasonably well-read and cultured New Englander, all that came to mind were Carl Hiaasen, Karen Russell, Art Deco, and the Indigo Girls’ song, “Salty South.” I’m fascinated by the unique art each geographical location in the US produces. For one country, our regions are so distinct, so unto themselves, and while strip malls and box stores do their insidious homogenizing work, I continue to seek out the ideas, expressions, geology, landscapes, flora and fauna that define a region. Reading Sandra Gail Lambert’s remarkable debut novel, The River’s Memory, I’ve found another name to add to my Florida list. (more…)

‘Olive Oil and White Bread’ by Georgia Beers

Posted on August 19, 2014 by in Reviews, Romance

Olive Oil and White Bread, the cleverly titled offering by romance novelist Georgia Beers, is the story of two women, one from a traditional yet accepting Italian-American family, and one from what can only be termed old-school, uppity American. Angelina Righetti’s family is warm and accepting. Jillian Clark has an apologetic father and a snooty, unsupportive mother. There is an immediate attraction when the women see each other from a distance at a softball game, but only meet months later. It’s clear from their early interactions that these two are meant to be together for a lifetime if they can only figure out what’s important in life and in relationship—and that’s where the problems begin. (more…)

‘If This Be Sin’ by Hazel Newlevant

Posted on August 17, 2014 by in Comics, Illustrated

I love comics about musicians, especially behind-the-scenes bios about their life and creative processes. So for me, Hazel Newlevant’s comic If This Be Sin, which features three music related stories, was like getting triple scoops of my favorite flavor. Plus, one of the stories is about the falling out of rock star musicians Wendy and Lisa with Prince, which this former Minnesotan couldn’t wait to read. What better way to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of Purple Rain than with a little reality check on what Prince is really like? (more…)

’1960s Gay Pulp Fiction: The Misplaced Heritage’ Edited by Drewey Wayne Gunn and Jamie Harker

Posted on August 15, 2014 by in Nonfiction, Reviews

Gay pulp novels of the 1960s sell at steep prices these days. Their racy covers have great camp value, and since they were cheaply produced and meant to be easily disposed of, gay pulps are now collectors’ items. Gay pulps have even made inroads with academics, who have come to regard pulps as repositories of historical information. But it hasn’t always been so. (more…)

‘To look at the sea is to become what one is: An Etel Adnan Reader’ by Etel Adnan

Posted on August 12, 2014 by in Nonfiction, Poetry

Etel Adnan is practically an institution. With writing that has been set to music, turned into plays, and used in political protests, her gripping lyrical style coupled with deep philosophical prowess has made her a literary giant for decades. So when her retrospective collection, To look at the sea is to become what one is was announced to be released from Nightboat Books, I was thrilled to get my hands on a review copy. (more…)

‘He Mele A Hilo: A Hilo Song’ by Ryka Aoki

Posted on August 12, 2014 by in Fiction, Reviews

Nona Watanabe makes her humble chicken dish so well it might just be a divine calling, but her outfits and skin are never quite the “right” colors for her to feel like she belongs. Her boyfriend Harry can fish and never return empty-handed nor unsatisfied with his simple life, but he can’t shake the memories of his long-dead wife in order to fully embrace his second chance at love. Steve Yates is the richest man on Earth and has just bought a gorgeous stretch of Hilo coastline, but his money can’t purchase the one thing he wants most: his wife’s health. Kam Schulman, haole that he is, moved to Hilo after Hawaii’s music called to him, but he can’t be sure his new bandmates acceptance isn’t provisional. And Noelani Choi is the most naturally gifted hula dancer on the island, but her desire for meaning has drawn her away from the dance and towards an alienating obsession with Jesus. (more…)

‘Wilde Stories 2014: The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction’ Edited by Steve Berman

Posted on August 11, 2014 by in Fiction, Speculative

Begun in 2008, the annual series Wilde Stories has striven to provide the best in gay speculative fiction (much as its companion series Heiresses of Russ strives to do for lesbian speculative fiction). The latest installment in this series contains fourteen selections published during the calendar year 2013, which first appeared in other anthologies, literary magazines, and three first appeared online (two at Tor.com). Both female and male writers are represented. In his introduction, Berman notes that this installment happens to contain only writers who have never been published in this series before: a sign that perhaps the field of gay speculative fiction is expanding. Berman certainly has an expansive definition for speculative fiction:  four are outright horror, several more blur the line between horror and dark fantasy, most seem set in some version of our world (two are clearly set on another world), one is a historical fantasy, and one is steampunk. Several of the stories defy easy classification, straddling different sub-genres, and a couple do not even strike me as obvious speculative fiction. (more…)